When things feel impossible: Getting back to beginner’s mind

I’ve been thinking about things that seem impossible – either before you do them or after. I remember talking to a friend of mine who organized a national tour once. There was something he said about that continues to pop up now and again. “If I’d known what it really would take, I don’t know if I would have started.”

What would happen if we all worked from beginner’s mind, and went forward? What would it look like, I wonder?

This past weekend, Sarah and I drove 1,100 miles over the course of three days. On the surface, that seems to fall on the impossible scale somewhere, at least for me. Yet, it wasn’t something I thought too much about. We had ordered a custom made meditation shrine from Laughing Coyote Woodworks and wanted to pick it up. Big bonus being we would get to see a total of three good friends of ours in the process. Win!

We packed the car with a bag of snacks, a small cooler of water, and a suitcase with clothes for the weekend. Armed with my iPod and music, we began our trek of a thousand miles.

English: A summer view from Mt Snow
English: A summer view from Mt Snow (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve only been up north a few times, and only once in the memorable past (there’s a lot that I can’t recall). So driving through was beginner’s mind. The terrain and traffic is vastly different from Baltimore, so at times, it was like learning to drive again (complete with mild cursing and moments of “What am I doing?”)

But, those moments required me to slow down. Those moments woke me up, where I could see the tree line, how the trees looked like they were all in alignment, until one would suddenly rise taller than the rest. Or, when the chipmunk ran across the road and I was going slowly enough to stop and not freak out.

Beginner’s mind was slowing down, not thinking I knew what was just around the bend, or thinking that I could take the bend at the normal speeds I travel in Baltimore. Beginner’s mind was being curious about where we were going and what kinds of things would greet us as we traveled through the states. Beginner’s mind was the creation of the Things to Look Up on Wikipedia List, as curiosity became the name of the traveling game.

When looking back, 1,100 miles in three days (which amounted to about 24 hours of driving, total) seems insane. Like, if we had really thought about it, would we have done it? Who knows. But, going in – and exploring – with beginner’s mind allowed us to be surprised and delighted throughout the trip, even when we had been traveling for hours.

What surprises does your life hold in store for you, if you look at it with beginner’s mind? If you look around, and don’t anticipate or expect to find “the same old thing,” what will you find?


7 thoughts on “When things feel impossible: Getting back to beginner’s mind

  1. Oh goodness, all sorts of things. I get scared when I finally take down my picture perfect frame to see the whole world before me. Sometimes, I find it easier to live my life in a box. It’s so easy to live life that way, but also so restricting! thanks for sharing!

  2. I love that phrase, “beginner’s mind.” I think a lot of times if we go into new experiences without any sort of preconceived expectations or ideas of what it’ll be like, the experience turns out to be so much more rewarding. Our minds have very powerful ways of warping the way we see things and I find that once I start thinking too much, I tend to get paranoid and start worrying about things that probably wouldn’t even happen.

    Lots of food for thought here. Thanks for sharing, Stephanie. :)

    • Thanks for commenting! I think you’re spot on with the thinking too much then becoming paranoid and/or worried about things that (probably) won’t happen.

      Are there specific things you do to try to enter situations or moments with beginner’s mind?

      • That’s an interesting question. I think usually it takes me getting to the peak of paranoia and on the brink of walking away from everything that I suddenly remember to take a breather and come back. And then when I do I find I can see things with more of a beginner’s mind. Not the most practical way but it works out for me. ;)

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